The Brus

The following is from The Brus by John Barbour (c.1316-1395):

Book 1

This book the true story of King Robert and Sir James Douglas. Alexander III's death; the dispute over the succession submitted to Edward I's arbitration. Edward I's ambitions. Edward I offers Scotland to Robert Bruce; and to John Balliol. The miseries of English occupation. In praise of freedom; on the pains of thralldom. The fate of Sir William Douglas; his son James goes as a boy to Paris. Douglas returns to Scotland, to serve the bishop of St Andrews; his appearance. Douglas asks Edward I for his lands. The romance begins; the Scots and the Macabees. Comyn's proposal to Bruce. The dangers of treason. Edward I confronts Bruce with the indenture in parliament.

Book 2

Bruce escapes to Lochmaben. The killing of Comyn and his uncle. Edward hears of Bruce's flight; news of Comyn's death reaches the bishop of St Andrews. Douglas leaves St Andrews on the bishop's horse and joins Bruce. Bruce becomes king; Edward I sends Aymer de Valence against him; King Robert's force at Perth. At Perth; Umfraville's advice to Valence. The Scots go to Methven to camp; the English advance on them. The battle of Methven. The king goes to the Mounth as a refugee. The king goes to Aberdeen; the queen joins him; a Theban analogy; they ride to the hills and live rough.

Book 3

The lord of Lorn attacks the king's men. Comparisons from Celtic and classical legends with the king's defence of his men. The king kills the two Mac na Dorsair brothers and their fellow. Mac Nachtan praises the king. The king comforts his men with the example of the recovery of Rome from Hannibal. The king cites the example of Caesar. Atholl asks to be left; the king sends him, Neil Bruce and the ladies to Kildrummy. The king plans to go to Kintyre; Neil Campbell sent to find ships; the king and his men cross Loch Lomond; he reads a romance to them. Lennox joins the king; a reflection on weeping. They row past Bute; Lennox's boat escapes pursuers. Arrival in Kintyre; Angus of Islay submits at Dunaverty; they sail for Rathlin. The stormy crossing; the panic and the submission of Rathlin.

Book 4

English harshness to prisoners. The siege of Kildrummy Castle. The surrender of Kildrummy and the death of Edward I. Douglas and Boyd go from Rathlin to Arran. Douglas plunders the provisions being brought to Brodick Castle. The king comes to Arran and is joined by Douglas and Boyd. The king sends a man to Carrick to see if he might land there. Cuthbert the spy discovers that Percy, in Turnberry Castle, controls Carrick. The king thinks he sees a fire; he prepares to cross to Carrick; his hostess predicts his ultimate success, and gives him her two sons. A discourse on prophecy.

Book 5

The king goes to Carrick; he upbraids Cuthbert. The king decides to stay to attack Percy's men in a village by Turnberry. Akinswoman gives him news and forty men. Percy is rescued from Turnberry castle. Douglas decides to visit his lands. Douglas meets Tom Dickson; he acquires a following. The garrison are attacked and many slain in kirk; the castle is taken; the Douglas Lardner; slighting of the castle. Douglas withdraws; Clifford repairs the castle. Umfraville finds a kinsman of the king willing to slay him. The traitor and his sons seek to kill the king but are killed.

Book 6

Sir Ingram Umfraville praises the king; the men of Galloway pursue him with a tracker dog. The king alone defends the ford. The story of Tydeus of Thebes. His men find the king. A comment on valour. Douglas attacks Thirlwall at Douglas Castle. The king is pursued by John of Lorn and his tracker-dog; he and his foster brother kill five men.

Book 7

The king escapes from the hound. An alternative account of the escape. Three men with a wethertry to kill the king and kill his foster-brother. The king goes to a house, where the goodwife gives him her two sons; he meets his companions and they take an enemy force in a village by surprise. The king goes hunting and is attacked by three men beside a wood. The king goes to Glen Trool; Valence follows him there. Valence sends a woman ahead to spy, but she is discovered; Valence attacks and is discumfitted; his captains quarrel.

Book 8

The king in Kyle. Douglas defeats Sir Philip Mowbray at Edirford. The flight of Sir Philip Mowbray to Inverkip. The reactions of Valence and King Robert. Valence challenges the king to open battle at Loudoun hill. The king chooses and prepoares a battle field. The armies before the battle of Loudoun. The battle at Loudoun. The victory of King Robert. Valence resigns his keepership and returns to England. The king decides to go north across the Mounth. Douglas returns to Douglasdale, to trick the garrison of Douglas Castle. The garrison comes out. The letter of Webiton, the taking of the castle and the freeing of its garrison.

Book 9

The king goes to Inverurie and falls ill. A reflection on leadership; the king goes to Slioch. The skirmishing at Slioch. The king withdraws from Slioch. The king goes to Strathbogie then to Inverurie. Preparation for battle. The battle of Old Meldrum. The ravaging of Buchan; the taking of Forfar Castle. The king goes to Perth and besieges it. The assault on Perth. The king takes Perth; his treatment of the townsfolk. The king controls Scotland north of the Forth. Edward Bruce's reputation; he goes to Galloway. The battle by the Cree. In a second encounter Edward Bruce defeats a much larger force. Quhen thai had thyrlyt thaim hastily. A comment on Edward Bruce in Galloway. Douglas in the Forest surrounds and takes enemy Scots in a house. Thomas Randolph upbraids the king.

Book 10

Preparations for battle against John of Lorn. The battle beneath Ben Cruachan. The taking of Dunstaffnage and the surrender of Alexander of Argyll. The plan to take the peel of Linlithgow. The taking of the peel of Linlithgow. A profile of Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray. Moray sets siege toi Edinburgh Castle. The situation in Edinburgh; Douglas's activity. Douglas plans to take Roxburgh Castle. The taking of the enclosure of Roxburgh Castle. The taking of the hall at Roxburgh Castle; the garrison in the tower. Surrender of the tower at Roxburgh Castle; slighting of the castle. Moray seeks a means of taking Edinburgh Castle. The plan suggested by William Francis. The climbing of Edinburgh Castle rock. The taking of Edinburgh Castle. Comparison with the taking of Tyre by Alexander the Great. St Margaret's prophecy. Treatment of Piers Lubaud; rewards of the earl of Moray. Places taken by Sir Edward Bruce; his siege of Stirling Castle.

Book 11

Criticism of the compact about Stirling Castle. King Robert criticises his brother. Both sides prepare for an English invasion; King Edward's resources. The appearance of the English host. The dispositions of the English host; the march from Berwick. Muster of the Scottish army; its size and commanders. King Robert proposes the division of his host. The four divisions and their commanders. The digging of pots by the roadside. Sunday; the Scots prepare for combat with mass and by arming themselves. Disposition of the small folk; preparations for the English advance. King Robert has the English host surveyed; spreads a false account of its strength. The English send an advance party to rescue the castle. The advance party is challenged by Moray; his force is surrounded. The fight between Moray's force and the English. Douglas proposes to help Moray.

Book 12

The king prepares his division. The king kills Henry de Bohun. Douglas admires the struggle of Moray and his men. Moray's victory over Clifford's men. The king asks his men whether they should stay and fight. The king's address to his men: the reasons for the fight. The king's address to his men: practical advice. The English prepare: the night before the battle. The Scottish and English preparations on the morning. Umfraville's advice to Edward II rejected. The English attack Edward Bruce's division. Moray's men attack the main English host.

Book 13

Douglas's division attacks. Sir Robert Keith's cavalry disperses the English archers. The king addresses his division and commits it to the battle. A further description of the fighting. The men guarding supplies in the Park choose a leader and move towareds the battle, dismaying the English. The king presses the enemy harder and some flee. King Edward abandons the battle, but Sir Giles d'Argentan fights on and is killed. The English army scatters; many are drowned in Bannockburn or are killed by Scots. Edward II goes by Stirling Castle, round the Park to Linlithgow; Douglas pursues with too small a force. Capture of Hereford at Bothwell; escape of Sir Maurice Berkeley; flight of many to Stirling Castle; King Robert fears an English recovery. Looting of the enemy; the dead knights; the treachery of the earl of Atholl. The burial of Gloucester; the surrender of Sir Marmaduke Tweng and of Stirling Castle. Douglas is joined by Sir Laurence Abernethy; they follow King Edward to Winchburgh. Both sides rest at Winchburgh; they ride on till King Edward takes a boat at Dunbar. Reflections on the kings' failure and success; destruction of Stirling Castle. Surrender of Bothwell Castle; exchange of prisoners; Robert Stewart and the date of compiling this book. The king's territorial settlement; an attack on Northumberland.

Book 14

Edward Bruce goes to Ireland. The Scots defeat the lords of Ulster. Defeat of two Irish kings; the Lieutenant assembles an army at Dundalk. The two sides prepare for battle. The Scots are victorious and take Dundalk; drunkenness in the army. The Lieutenant is defeated in another battle. The Scots go to O'Dempsy, who gives them quarters; he seeks to starve and drown them. The Scots are rescued; they camp near an enemy army, seize its foragers and make a surprise attack. The Lieutenant and his army occupy Connor and plan to attack the Scots. The Scots move camp; the enemy scouts survey them, and decide to attack; Moray ambushes the enemy.

Book 15

The Scots win a great battle at Connor. Slaughter in Connor; the prisoners and wounded. Siege of Carrickfergus Castle; a truce is broken by ships from Dublin. The new force attacks the besieging Scots; Sir Neil Campbell wounded. Edward Bruce defeats the men from the castle; Neil Campbell dies. Surrender of Carrickfergus Castle. King Robert sails to the Isles, is drawn between the Tarberts; submission of the Islesmen. Edmund de Caillou plunders the Merse. Douglas pursues, catches and kills Caillou. The challenge of Sir Robert Neville is taken up by Douglas. Neville waits then attacks Douglas's force. Douglas fights with and kills Neville; division of the spoils. The reputation of Douglas.

Book 16

King Robert goes to Ireland. The Scots march south and an ambush is prepared for them. The ambush of King Robert's men; the folly of Colin Campbell. The fight and victory of King Robert. Edward Bruce upbraided; the Scots' journey, and the wait for the laundress. Edward Bruce and the Irish kings; his failings. Douglas at Lintalee; Sir Thomas Richmond proposes to cut down Jedworth Forest. Douglas defeats and kills Richmond, then drives off his clerk from Lintalee. A comparison of Douglas's exploits. English ships come to Fife; the Scots let them land. The bishop of Dunkeld drives the English to their ships. The bishop is praised; the king returns from Ireland.

Book 17

Only Berwick remains in English hands; a burgess offers to betray it. The marischal shows the letter to the king, who seeks to avoid jealousy between Douglas and Moray. The Scots take the wall of Berwick, but discipline breaks down. The town of Berwick falls. Men flock to Berwick; the castle holds out but eventually surrenders. The king plans to hold Berwick; Walter Stewart given command there; the garrison and its arms. Edward II comes to besiege Berwick with land and sea forces. The English assault the town by land. The assault by sea; it fails, and an engineer is taken prisoner. The English withdraw from the walls; King Robert invades England, ravaging. The battle at Myton-on-Swale. The men in Berwick prepare engines, the English a sow; a second English assault. The Scots force the engineer to destroy the sow. An attack by a ship is repulsed. The Steward's defence of the Mary gate. The assault ends, but the garrison prepares for another. The English debate whether to continue, but withdraw; the fate of Thomas earl of Lancaster; the return of King Robert. Praise of Walter Stewart; help is to be sent to Edward Bruce.

Book 18

Edward Bruce marches toward Dundalk; he debates whether to fight. The Irish kings promise to remain and watch the fight. The defeat and death of Edward Bruce; Philip Mowbray's fate. The body of Edward Bruce. A verdict on Edward Bruce; the belated reinforcements. Edward Bruce's head; Edward II plans to invade Scotland. King Robert withdraws; the English starve at Edinburgh. The retreating English advance party attacked by Douglas at Melrose. King Robert invades England; the English army awaits him at Byland. Douglas and Moray attack uphill at Byland; defence by two English knights. The king's men take the heights, take prisoners and defeat the English. Walter Stewart attacks up to York; John of Brittany a prisoner. French knights released without ransom; the expedition returns to Scotland.

Book 19

The conspiracy against King Robert; its discovery. The trial in parliament; the fate of the conspirators. Sir Ingram Umfraville's reaction and decision to leave Scotland. Sir Ingram Umfraville advises a long truce, which is made. The death of Walter the Steward. The truce is given up; Moray and Douglas harry Weardale. Edward III's army approaches; Douglas prepares an ambush; the skirmish by the Wear. Douglas drives back the English; the two sides encamp; novelties seen. Douglas foils an English ambush. The Scots camp in a walled park; the English follow. Douglas rides round the English camp and surprises it on the far side. Douglas and Moray debate; the fable of the fox and the fisherman. Douglas proposes a method of withdrawal. The Scots withdraw secretly by night, leaving fires burning; the English give up the chase. King Robert sends a relief force;the two Scottish forces meet; the king rejoices.

Book 20

King Robert in Northumberland. The peace with England. The marriage of the king's son, David. Coronation of David, settlement of the succession. The king's illness and last will. Douglas is chosen to take the king's heart against God's enemies. The death of King Robert; his burial at Dunfermline. Douglas goes to Seville with the king's heart. The repute of Douglas in Spain. Douglas does battle with the Saracens. Douglas seeks to rescue another knight and is killed. Sorrow at Douglas's death; his love of loyalty, compared to that of Fabricius. The body of Douglas brought home and buried. The death of Moray.

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Copyright Scotland from the Roadside 2016